Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New Conservative leader (and formerly moderate) Erin O'Toole uses social conservatives to win power

New Conservative leader Erin O'Toole
Once again, the power of social conservatives to determine the outcome of Conservative party leadership races in Canada knows no bounds. 

This week, after voting just over 40% of the Conservative leadership raw vote between two clearly unqualified socially conservative candidates, social conservatives propelled winner Erin O'Toole to victory on subsequent ballots over the perceptibly more moderate Peter MacKay.  

Yes Derek Sloan and Lesley Lewis were very unqualified leadership candidates.  

Sloan barely got elected to Parliament last year from Northumberland county in Ontario, and has since gone on to spread considerable and typical socially conservative B.S., doing his best imitation of the orange sociopath in the White House, including stupid comments earlier this year about the scientific origins of homosexuality (please leave the science for scientists!)  Sloan's biggest claim to fame: spreading racist doubt against Canada's Chief Medical of Health Doctor Theresa Tam simply because she was born in China.  Therefore, she couldn't be trusted to defend the health interests of Canadians, Sloan insinuated.  

In response to this crap, 15.6% of Conservative party members voted for Sloan this summer.  That translated into 14.3% of the points across the country.  This percentage was on par with the votes received by Brad Trost, another dimwitted so-con back in the 2017 Conservative leadership race.   The Conservative leadership voting system gives all 338 ridings equal points regardless of the number of memberships held locally.  All ridings get 100 points contributing to 33,800 points across the country.

Lesley Lewis' results were even better.  Despite never being elected to anything, and despite being unable to speak any French, Lewis garnered a scary 24.7% of the raw vote in the Conservative leadership race on the first ballot.  That vote was concentrated in certain pockets of the country like Saskatchewan (where she won the points outright on the first ballot) as her points across the country were only 20.5%.  

Lewis was well-spoken as a candidate in English, and I will admit she did manage to sound more reasonable on many issues than Sloan.  Her position on same sex marriage was discriminatory, an irony not lost on me as she's a Black woman.  (UPDATE: I've been taken to task for emphasizing her gender and race, which is ridiculous because both were very much relevant to how she was perceived in this race.  Lewis very much presented the professional, sophisticated, immigrant Black woman who could re-define the image of the typical Canadian conservative.  Yet she still possesses anti-gay positions including opposition to same sex marriage.  It has been suggested her "personal" position is not relevant as she promised she wouldn't re-open the marriage issue (the same policy held by Andrew Scheer) and allegedly does no harm.  In truth, it does a lot of harm.  Any opposition enunciated by political leaders to same sex marriage reinforces disrespect against all gay people, which is the opposite of the "respect" Lewis claimed she would offer for "everyone."  When political leaders take these positions, it sadly reinforces existing resentments and bigotries in society, and gives tacit permission for those bigotries to continue, which in turn leads to continued and justified violence and discrimination against queer people.  Most of the conservatives guilty of this will, of course, never see the violence they helped promote with their ideologies, which again is part of the problem, because then they will pretend it doesn't exist (see the Republicans in the U.S. for many examples of this.)   I also see the effect of Lewis' race and gender as having given permission to the white anti-gay so-cons in the party to continue to hold their positions and vote for her, and even feel good about it.)

Nevertheless, I will admit that Lewis is an accomplished person and would make a decent Conservative Member of Parliament, based on her experience (as we know many Con MPs still harbour the same anti-gay positions on marriage).  But like I said, she speaks no French and has never been elected to office.  The notion that she should be Conservative leader this year is foolish. 

Yet the so-cons, plus probably some other more moderate Conservatives, still cast ballots for her in huge numbers, challenging the two front runners, Erin O'Toole and Peter MacKay. 

Erin O'Toole, of course, is no social conservative.  Yet he's clearly smart and learned many lessons from his failed 2017 leadership run when he sounded decidedly more moderate, and more in tune with mainstream Canada.   After seeing the massive amount of votes for unqualified social conservative candidates in 2017, O'Toole clearly decided he needed to reach out to these people and win subsequent ballot support for this year's run.   

Thus, O'Toole pretended this year he was a so-called "True Blue" conservative, taking regressive positions on public funding for Canada's public broadcaster, for example, and promising to "Take Back Canada," whatever that means.  It was coded language designed to appeal to the substantial bigoted base of his party.

I'll never understand how moderate conservatives can stand next to and empower bigots like this, who so clearly make up a sizeable minority of the party.  Truth be told, conservatives once they win elected power, tend to ignore social conservative issues.  See Ontario Premier Doug Ford as the latest example of this.

No doubt, O'Toole, now safely in power, is free to remind us that he's "pro-choice" and intends to walk in Pride parades, unlike his predecessors Andrew Scheer and Stephen Harper. 

In truth, I've liked O'Toole for a while.  He seems like a decent man and is also a more natural fit for leadership, including stronger communication abilities than both Scheer and Harper.  He comes from a fiscal conservative, not social conservative wing of the Ontario party.  Thus, I don't really worry too much about what O'Toole might do should be actually win an election.   I doubt he'll ever shut down Canada's much-loved public broadcaster (you can't shut down and sell the English CBC and still leave the French equivalent SRC seriously viable as a company, as he promised this year). 

O'Toole's campaign this year simply exposes how shrewd a strategist he can be.  He used social conservatives to get over the top in this unique race.  And politics is ultimately about winning.  I can't fault him for being a good strategist.  

He's still got a lot of work ahead of him to get known and define what his leadership would mean to mainstream Canada.  On that front, he'll struggle against a fairly entrenched Liberal incumbent whose support went up this year thanks to Justin Trudeau's stewardship during the pandemic. 

Still, O'Toole is leaps and bounds better than Scheer, who reminded us all again how pathetic he is during his farewell address to the party on Sunday night.  For that, at least, I am grateful. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Kamala Harris is the historic choice and probably the best choice that Joe Biden could've made for his running mate

Democratic VP candidate Kamala HarrisCongratulations to Kamala Harris being named this afternoon as Joe Biden's running mate on the Democratic ticket! 

I'm pleased with this choice.  It's great to have a woman on the ticket, one heartbeat away from the possible presidency.

All the other VP contenders had their strengths, but also weaknesses.  On the scale of things, it was obvious to me and many others that Kamala Harris had the most to bring to the role.

By not picking Susan Rice, Biden avoids reminding voters of the past (of which he himself already well reminds them.)  Instead, choosing Harris is a signal to the possibilities of a fresh start.   

By not picking a number of well-qualified local mayors or congresswomen, he signaled the importance of state-wide victories and experience, and the incredible pressure and vetting they bring.  Harris was elected both as statewide Attorney General and Senator from California.   She's done the hard work.  She's faced the intense fire, fought back and is still standing strongly.

Furthermore, Harris's presidential run in 2019 brought her the national exposure, scrutiny and experience you can't get from even state-wide campaigns.  In that sense, only Elizabeth Warren measured up to Harris.  She's a known quantity with great name recognition already.  

But in choosing a woman of colour who is dynamic, intelligent, very experienced and who seems very reasonable on policy, Biden is responding to this year's social unrest over systemic racism and putting in place someone who has excelled at working within the system to achieve reforms.  I can see Harris one day as president.  She's ready today.   

Harris's politics are modestly progressive.  Her policy record is mixed, but shows a strong ability to listen and grow.  I've been most impressed with her ability to win over critics who just last year attacked her with the line, "Kamala is a cop."  That apparently hurt her deeply and she's been reaching out to activists to change their minds about her since.  Her heart seems to be in the right place, along with Biden's.  She complements him well. 

Even her willingness to go after Biden in last year's Democratic debate over the issue of busing shows her fearlessness.  And Biden's willingness to move past that and put her on his ticket shows a maturity and judgment sadly lacking in the man child currently occupying the White House. 

If I were Biden, that would be my response when questioned about Harris's criticisms during last year's debate: "Her characterization was unfair, but I'm over it, I don't hold grudges, and I am even willing to work with people who previously gave me a hard time in order to do what's right for the American people." 

For Harris, she should say: "I'm not afraid to question and challenge in a very tough way when I need to." 

We don't need useless yes-men in the White House next to the President like Pence is today and everyone else on Trump's team.   We need people who can speak truth to power.  Harris has obviously proven she's willing to do that. 

Harris, best of all, is a honed fighter on the campaign trail with great ability to devour opponents with her sharp tongue and questioning abilities.  Her recent prosecutor-style questioning of William Barr and other Trumpians means that the VP debate against Mike Pence is going to be a doozie!   Having someone with Harris's oratorical skills help make the case against this horrid regime is going to be wonderful.  

Harris is reportedly one of Donald Trump's few adversaries who didn't get some immature nickname from him.  Apparently, people think Trump is a bit scared of Harris.  

That's a good thing.  Now she's going to help dismantle this horrid regime. 

In 2008, when Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his VP running mate, I thought to myself this signals that Obama, then more of an outsider who was shaking up the body politic, was professing how serious he truly was about the presidency and how willing he would be to work with the mainstream.  

In 2020, I see Biden picking Harris as a signal that Biden gets it, he understands the moment we are in, he understands the needs not only of this most crucial campaign, but also our place in history.  This is a great choice! 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Trump has empowered racist jerks to act like bigger racist jerks...

"Everything that has come out of his mouth, not just against Black people, I mean, he started his campaign with racist attacks on Mexicans. He's attacked Native Americans and his latest attacks are on Asian Americans by calling the (coronavirus) as the China virus. And there has been attacks against the Asian Pacific Islander community.  People have been hurt because of his essentially giving license to racists that might have been a little dormant for a minute, but who now feel completely emboldened and empowered," Bass said.

"I'm very clear that the Republican Party has two strategies for this election. And one is to resurrect the ghost of Joe McCarthy and the Cold War. And two is to resurrect the ghost of George Wallace and run a racist campaign," Bass said.

I'm a fan of Karen Bass.  I'm also a fan of Kamala Harris, the former California Attorney General and current Senator from California, who is also a major contender for Biden's VP spot.  I'm not sure who I prefer between the two of them.   I also like former United Nations ambassador Susan Rice, but her lack of elected political and campaign experience will make her a weaker candidate than the other two, in my opinion.  I also adore Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, but I do think an all-White, septuagenarian ticket is probably not the best idea this year considering that Biden is where he is now thanks to Black women. 

But regardless who Biden picks as his VP, I'll support her. 

Because it is a matter of deep human importance and basic justice that the racist jerk in the White House be removed asap. 

Trump has empowered racists to be bigger racists like him. 

He's empowered jerks to be bigger jerks like him.

He's empowered sexual predators to commit sexual crimes against women because he got away with the same crimes.

The world is more horrible with this man in the White House.  For the sake of humanity and our collective future, that cancer needs to be removed yesterday.